Of Historical Interest

Over the last few days, the RSS feeds and various other sources have unearthed a number of articles that provide fascinating histories of various things. So I’ve decided to bring them all together into this historical prespective:

  • Graf Zeppelin Stamps. As I work at home, behind me is a needlepoint I did ages ago of the $2.60 Graf Zeppelin stamp. I recently encountered a history of this series of three stamps, most of which were destroyed by the post office. At the time, the Zeppelin was the largest flying machine the world had ever seen. Its operating costs were proportionate, clocking at about $4 per mile (or $54 per mile in today’s money). Although passengers paid steep ticket prices, especially on early flights, the ship could only hold about 20 of them at a time, limiting that revenue stream. So the operating company turned to what supported most airline companies in those days: air mail. They commissioned special stamps from the countries on the tour route. Only letters with these stamps on them would be accepted onto the airship, which would then deliver them to their destinations. The arrangement was that 93 percent of the proceeds from each stamp was funneled back into German Zeppelin Airship Works. The US eventually agreed to make such stamps: 65c, $1.30, and $2.60, with the hope that collectors would buy most of them and they could keep the funds. But this was the height of the depression, and the few bought were used on letters.
  • Three Clubs. If you go to the Hollywood Fringe Festival, one of the venues is the Three Clubs Bar — but not being a bar type, I’ve never gone in. Still, I have an actress acquaintance of mine who does a regular Harry Potter-themed burlesque show there, so it is on my radar. Yesterday, LAist published a fascinating history of the bar, from its early days, its 1950s vibe, its appearance in the movie Swingers, to its current revitalization as a theatre-venue thanks to the HFF. There’s even a great picture of the actress I know, Kim Dalton (who I still believe is another Megan Hilty waiting to be discovered).
  • Les Miserables. Speaking of theatre, let’s pivot to the musical and the book Les Miserables, which is about a man who was imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread. NPR just did a history on bread at that time, and it is really interesting. There was no sharper marker of economic status in 19th-century France than bread. The country was divided into rich people who ate soft white bread (larton savonné) and poor people who ate coarse black bread (larton brutal) made from rye, into which bakers mixed sawdust, tree bark and other additives. The loaf that Valjean stole was the standard loaf of the poor in nineteenth-century France, an oval loaf weighing four and a half pounds, with a thick black crust and heavy grey meal inside. Not the sort of thing you would want to eat nowadays.
  • Universal City. Pivoting next to film, yesterday also brought a really interesting history of how Universal City got started. Yes, the tour was there from the very start, as early as 1913 with the first studio. After setting up shop, Laemmle came west to scout San Fernando Valley locations on which to construct a larger studio in early 1914, and quickly informed Southern California of his search. He bought a full page advertisement in the February 19, 1914 Los Angeles Times, proclaiming, “We want a ranch of 600 to 1200 acres on which to product moving pictures.” He estimated the company spent $1 million a year in business around the studio, and that other businesses servicing it would also greatly contribute to the economy. Universal offered employment to hundreds, and shopkeepers would make money off of these individuals, so he asked what inducements cities would offer to land their business, not unlike rich sports team owners looking for cities to pay for construction of fancy new sports arenas for their teams. And thus… Universal City.
  • Appliances. When I was young, appliances — once called “white goods” because that was the color they came in — lasted forever. A refrigerator or washing machine would last 25 years. Nowadays, things don’t last as long. Recraigslist has an interesting essay on the subject, exploring the reasons why appliances don’t last as long as they used to.
  • Diplomacy. A bit less of a history, but an exploration of the board game Diplomacy, which I used to play all the time. There’s a bit of history, but this is more an exploration of the game at the level of international competitions. I played this during high school — along with Machiavelli — and ran an occasional tournament at a local game convention in the 1980s. Today I can’t scare up a game — no one wants to play an 8 hours game when one could play 4-6 eurogames in that time.



I Didn’t Know That!

This week’s news chum brings together a number of articles that present facts that you might not have known, but that are fascinating to read. Shall we begin? I quote a bit more from the first article, simply because the words crack me up every time I read them.

  • Fighting Capitalism. As you may have just read, Hasbro has dropped three timeless Monopoly tokens — the thimble, the boot, and the wheelbarrow — and replaced them with a T. Rex, a Penguin, and Rubber Ducky. Some speculate that this is further evidence that what was once a game that protested capitalism is being further eviscerated to celebrate it instead. After all, all three tokens eliminated fit into the theme of capitalism and its discontents: the railway baron’s top hat, the worker’s thimble, the boot with the strap by which to pull one’s self up, and so on. But after Parker Bros purchased the game, it has slowly and surely been turned into a game demonstrating how fun it is to make lots of money and bankrupt your friends. But fear not. A wonderful Vox article identifies the hidden anti-capitalist meanings behind the new tokens: (1) The T. Rex stands for the inherent predatory nature of capitalism. When you use the token, you’re saying, “Behold, I devour all that stands before me, just as capitalism devours the rights of the workers.”; (2) The Penguin. It carries a double meaning. It stands for the coldness of Wall Street, and also for the profit-driven destruction of the polar ice caps. Plus it was a classic Batman villain. (3) The Rubber Ducky. It seems to say, “Much like water off of this duck, the inhumanity and decadence of late capitalism just rolls off my back.”
  • Time Zones. You’ve heard of “fun with flags”; here’s fun with time zones. Some timezones have 1/4 and 1/2 hour offsets. Some are next to each other, but when you cross only the date changes. Some even allow you to go back in time.
  • Chemistry and Ironing. Here’s why your shirts come out of the dryer wrinkled, the easy way to unwrinkle them, and the chemistry behind no-wrinkle fabrics and treatments.
  • Making Lemonade. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When genetics gives your vitilgo, turn it into art.
  • Pennnnnnnnnnnnnies. Here’s a history of coin-elongation machines,  which you’ve probably seen, but never thought about.
  • Decluttering. Here’s why it is so hard to let go of stuff.



Some Tasty Afternoon Stew

Observation StewNow that the highway pages are done, and the water heater is repaired, I can start some stew cooking on the stove. Loads of interesting articles in here. I’ll group them the best I can.

Things Dying and Dead, But Then Again….

  • The iPod Classic. Nine years ago, Apple introduced the iPod Classic. Last week, they introduced the iPhone 7. The iPod Classic had 160GB in a spinning hard disk, for $349. The iPhone 7 can have 256GB for almost $850. Is this the replacement for the Classic, finally? Or, is it still better to get a 7th Gen iPod Classic off eBay, or from that drawer you’ve been hiding it in, and replace the hard disk with a Tarkan board, some solid state memory (I put in 512GB), and keep the classic. Going the Tarkan route is less than $400, and gives you more memory for about the same cost. Oh, and it gives you a 3.5mm headphone jack as well, so you needn’t pay for adapters or lost AirPods. Then again, the headphone companies don’t care. They’ve got product to sell you.
  • The Colony Theatre. Oh, the poor Colony. We thought you would survive. Now you’re having to rent out your space just to stay alive. And your poor subscribers: We’re left holding the tickets for shows that we will never see (literally — there’s no way I’m gonna see Patty Duke in Mrs. Lincoln — both are dead). Will the Colony come back? At this point, I’m highly skeptical. What they need is new artistic direction, a new board, and a new way of thinking about things. Their collapse shows the perils of keeping the same leadership for far too long.
  • The Advertising Jingle. Perhaps you hadn’t noticed, but the advertising jingle is dead. Who killed it? Cover artists and the licensing of modified lyrics, that’s what. Those are more easily recognizable. So, our hats are off to you, “I’d like to teach the world to sing”, “Like a good neighbor”, and “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz”. We’re just left with the Empire Carpeting jingle.

Los Angeles Development

Sensitivity and Culture

  • Tiki Bars. Here’s an interesting question: If you were going to add a third arm to your body, where would you add it? Whoops, wrong question. Try this: Are Tiki Bars offensive to Polynesians? NPR endeavored to figure that out. It is hard to know: Tiki bars are about as close to something really Polynesian as the Chinese Food you got downtown in the 1950s and 1960s was to real Chinese food.
  • Napalm Girl. The furor yesterday was over Facebook and “Napalm Girl” — the famous photo of the napalmed Vietnamese girl. First it was taken down. Facebook banned it. Then they reversed themselves. It makes me think about a debate that occurred many many years ago when that photo was first published: Should photos like this be published? When does news value override sensitivity? These questions are still relevant today.

And the Rest…




News Chum Unwrapped: Will It Be Coal or Crystal?

userpic=chanukah-christmasTo all those who celebrate this day in the non-traditional way: The Merriest of Christmases to you. To all those that celebrate in the traditional way: I hope your movie is entertaining and your Chinese food delicious and MSG-free. Why look? What has 🎅 Santa left under the virtual tree? It looks like a collection of boxes of news chum! Let’s unwrap them and see what we’ve got. I wonder if any of them are for me?

  • 🎁 To: Porter Ranch Residents. I live in Northridge, just down the hill from Porter Ranch. The situation up there is a mess: it is bad for the homeowners, it is bad for the businesses in the area, it is bad for our property values, and it will be bad for all the customers of The Gas Company, who will have to foot the bill for this stupidity for years and years to come. For those that live in Porter Ranch, here are two things of interest: the first is a collection of resources from the Mayor’s office, the second is a commitment from SoCalGas that they will relocate residents faster.
  • 🎁 To: Map Collectors. Here’s a collection of 25 of the best Los Angeles maps. It is hard to pick a favorite on the list. I like the map of former streetcar routes, but I think one of the most useful ones compares the size of Los Angeles to other major cities. Most people don’t understand the sheer size of LA, and the distinct difference in density. The change in property values from 2004 to 2014 is also scary: our zip shows a -24%. Mind you, we bought in the top of the market in 2005 😒 . Of course, my favorite map isn’t on the list; my favorite is the one done by my daughter that maps Yiddish books to where they were published in Southern California.
  • 🎁 To: Those From the Midwest. EaterLA recently announced a present for those from the midwest, or those (like me) who have fond memories of visiting the midwest: it appears there is now a full-sized Steak and Shake now open in Burbank. I wonder if this will entice my dear friend Linda in St. Louis to come out for a visit :-). We’ll have to try it next time we’re in the area.
  • 🎁 To: Honda CR-V Owners. Sigh, like us. Honda has extended the air-bag recall to a wider range of CR-Vs. Luckily, we live in a low humidity area, and most of the problems are the result of humidity. That’s perhaps why repairs are so slow out here: I’m still waiting to hear from Toyota on the availability of my repair; the passenger airbag in my wife’s CR-V was repaired in April ’15, and the driver’s airbag in October ’14.
  • 🎁 To: Those Concerned About Government Waste. We’re all aware the government procures supercomputers. We’re probably also aware that those computers get replaced every few years to stay current, maintainable, and at the cutting edge to give our Nation the lead we should have. So what happens to the old computers that were so expensive to procure. The answer will not make you happy. Most are “put out with the trash”; that is, they are disposed. The most efficient, secure and financially feasible way to do it is by using a computer wood chipper, provided by contractors who specialize in IT asset disposition. This is true especially for the supercomputers with high-level security data. Some are repurposed, but the process isn’t easy. The first possibility is to try and trade in the supercomputer on a replacement with the contractor. Trade-ins are sometimes possible, and repurposing is sometimes possible. The third strategy, if the first two aren’t feasible, is to put the old supercomputer through the General Services Administration’s clearinghouse for distributing unused government property. But even though they are cheap, the new owner must come and get it, get it out of where it is, and possibly contract to remove and reinstall.
  • 🎁 To: Those That Like Android. We all know that Windows is trying to have one operating system to rule them all: Windows 10 on the range from the desktop to the phone. What about a phone operating system on the desktop. How well does Android work with a keyboard and mouse? The answer is “Not good, but better than you would think.” The biggest affordance Android makes for a desktop OS is that it supports a keyboard and mouse. Any Android device can pair with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, and if you want to go the wired route, just about any phone can plug in a mouse and keyboard via a USB OTG cable and a USB hub. But from there…
  • 🎁 To: Las Vegas Lovers. Here’s an interesting collection of recommended books about Las Vegas. I’ve only heard of one of these. My list of Vegas books is over on the highway pages.
  • 🎁 To: Those Interested in Food Safety. Tumeric has recently been in the news for a number of reasons. In addition to its use in Indian food, and turning everything yellow, it has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties. Tumeric Tea can provide great relief from arthritis problems. Here’s another use: it is being infused into kitchen surfaces to make them safer. Using nanotechnology, the researchers developed a way to bind curcumin (a tumeric compound) to metal and glass; essentially they used tiny bubbles (nanovesicles) to enclose a curcumin compound. The coated surfaces kill microbes—including E. coli—and prevent food from spoiling without imparting turmeric flavor into the food.
  • 🎁 To: Food Waste or Waist Worriers. Being a member of the “clean plate club” (common in my generation) has been a terrible thing for my waistline, especially in these days of gigantic portions. But I also hate the notion of throwing away food. This is why I found this list of 12 things to keep food from going to waist or waste interesting. In addition to liking this being a list without a load of click-through screens, I like the following two tips: “Buying in bulk doesn’t save money if you end up throwing half of it away. When you don’t have a plan for how and when you will use a sale item, it’s more likely to go to waste, erasing any savings.” and “Shop for how you actually cook and eat, not for how you fantasize about eating. Exotic or otherwise aspirational purchases often go to waste.”
  • 🎁 To: Font Lovers. Back when I started using computers, you were lucky to have 5 different fonts (but then again, I only had 2 on the Selectric). Now there are thousands. But that’s less true if you are writing in Chinese. It is extremely difficult to create a Chinese font. This article discusses how hard it is. Just consider this: The default set for English-language fonts contains about 230 glyphs. A font that covers all of the Latin scripts—that’s over 100 languages plus extra symbols—contains 840 glyphs. The simplified version of Chinese, used primarily in mainland China, requires nearly 7,000 glyphs. For traditional Chinese, used in Taiwan and Hong Kong, the number of glyphs is 13,053.
  • 🎁 To: Yiddish Lovers. Last week, I kvelled about my daughter being written up in the JWeekly in the Bay Area for her presentation at the Magnes about her Findery Mapping work. She just wrote an article for a Yiddish Journal about her experiences this summer.
  • 🎁 To: Board Gamers (Especially those who visit Las Vegas). One of my favorite places in LA (which, alas, I don’t get to as frequently as I like because they have poor parking) is Game Haus Cafe. This is a coffee shop with a large collection of board games. For those that go to Vegas, here’s some great news: There’s a similar shop in Las Vegas! Meepleville Board Game Cafe (FB) at 4704 W. Sahara Ave. The owner has more than 10,000 games in his collection. Meepleville will charge $5 for all-day play Monday to Thursday and $10 Friday to Sunday. They are open 10am – midnight Monday – Thursday. 10am – 1am Friday and Saturday. 10am to 8pm on Sunday, starting in January 2016. This is a must visit next time I’m in Vegas; it ranks up there with the National Pinball Hall of Fame.
  • 🎁 To: Those With Large Record Collections. Those of us who have large collections of anything have the worry of about how our kids will dispose of it. This is especially true for records. The blog “Easily Mused” captures this well (and luckily, it provides a solution):

    “Even now, as the icy finger of Death gently tap tap taps on your shoulder, you can not help but smile as you gaze lovingly at your vinyl record collection which you have so diligently curated. Each gleaming scratchless platter is as close to perfection as the day it was manufactured, a testament to your love for and dedication to the recorded arts.

    Say, have you stopped to consider what will become of this treasure trove after you have departed this mortal realm? Many people such as yourself have bequeathed their records to a close friend or family member, receiving sincere assurances that said records will be treasured, cared for, and passed down to each succeeding generation. Alas, nothing could be further from the truth.

    The painful reality is, you will scarcely even have begun your eternal slumber before the sweaty and possibly jelly-stained fingers of your son or nephew will begin carelessly rifling through your precious vinyl stockpile. “What’s this crap?” he will exclaim. “Who the fuck is Buddy Rich?”

    Your beneficiary, having failed to discern the inestimable cultural value of your collection, will then proceed to recklessly hoist your record crates into the back of his freakishly oversized pickup truck, drop them off orphan-style at the front door of the nearest thrift store and peel away, bobbing his head zombie-like to the rhythm of the latest gangsta rap hit.

    Soon, your prized possessions will be unceremoniously dumped on the floor underneath three shelves that contain hardcover books no one will buy for even a quarter, like Jimmie Walker’s autobiography, Dyn-O-Mite!  or any Jackie Collins novel after Hollywood Wives. They will swiftly be procured by an eagle-eyed entrepeneur who talks like a sophisticated music aficionado, but is really only interested in the crinkly tones produced by shuffling big stacks of cash.

    Through his Ebay store, he will sell your cherished records for exorbitant prices and then send them, one by one, to every corner of the globe. Your ghost self will watch helplessly as your Basie goes to Boise, and your Miles goes to Milan. You will then spend the rest of eternity wandering about aimless and confused, trying but endlessly failing to remember the tune of one goddamn song.”

    Luckily, they provide a solution.



Thanksgiving News Tetrazzini: Squash, Migraines, Latrines, Lastpass, and more…

userpic=turkey,turkeysThanksgiving is over, and I’m sure you’re wondering what you’re going to do with the leftover: the drips and dregs of turkey links. You’ve had it to here with sandwiches, and aren’t in the mood for stew. How about some news chum tetrazzini?

  • Squashing It. Let’s start with some food: winter squash, to be specific. All squashes are not the same, and here’s how to know when a squash is at its best. Acorn, butternut and Hubbard squash — just a few of the season’s delights — fill different culinary niches. And, although they’re all typically picked within a month or so of each other in early fall, the optimal moment to eat them can differ quite a bit.
  • The Writing on the Walls. Here’s an interesting exploration of the meaning of the writing on latrine walls in the military. Quoting a paragraph in the article: «Superficially at least, the latrinalia resembled a YouTube comments section. There were the wild accusations of servicemen with vague vendettas: “Cpt. Franklin is a pussy and doesn’t give a shit about you.” There were sweeping political pronouncements: “Kill all politicians.” Misattributed appeals to authority in defense of ill-defined ideologies: “Only the dead have seen the end of war. —Homer.” And of course, there was the passionate, ongoing discourse between the “FTA,” or “Fuck the Army,” crowd, and those who rushed to the loyal defense of their beloved institution: “You’re a pussy.”»
  • Alexander Who?. The talk of Broadway this fall is Hamilton, the hip-hop Broadway musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton. It’s got surprising traction, but doesn’t tell the whole story. Here’s what you’re missing by only listening to the show.
  • Theatre Rules. Another theatre article (alas, I didn’t get to the magic three) that covers 8 rules that every theatre person should know. I knew many of these, but didn’t know the origins of them. For example, “breaking a leg” is not a wish for bad luck, and not whistling is for your safety.
  • He said, Sheepishly Here’s one I couldn’t make up if I tried: There’s an Austrian shepard who sings Yiddish to the Syrian refugees that he rescues. This shepard drives them through dirt-paved roads to his home in Austria, a remote cabin in the woods without running water. His risks could land in him in jail, but he clearly believes it’s worth the reward. It’s personal. His Jewish father fled to Britain before World War II, escaping persecution. He draws comparisons between his father’s plight, like the plight of so many Jews during Nazi rule in Europe. “It makes me cry again and again if I think of my father, of his situation, and of other immigrants–and I put it together with these people.”
  • Password Managers. I’m a password manager convert. I used to write them down in 4pt type and keep them in my wallet, but a password manager has made it easy to make my passwords stronger, with better protection of the passwords. Still, there are flaws in password managers, such as Lastpass, which I use. But I still use it. Why? This article says it all: “There is no bug-free software and any future research on other password managers would likely have similar results,” wrote the researchers. In the case of Lastpass, they responded by fixing the issued, and implementing new security measures in response to the research. No approach is perfect — the goal is to reduce risk. Another security researcher recently showed that it was possible to steal the user passwords from another manager, KeePass, which doesn’t upload anything to the cloud. Remember: Any password manager is safer than the current password practices used by most folks.
  • A Migraine Game. The latest new game round up from BoardGameGeek had me intrigued with the first item: “Let’s start with Hannah Shaffer‘s 14 Days, which bears the subtitle “A Game About Life With Migraines” and which originated from the designer’s own experience: “I didn’t know how to talk to the people around me about how migraines were impacting my life. This game exists to help break through some of the silence and stigma around migraines, as well as other types of chronic pain.” 14 Days was funded on Kickstarter in July 2015 and due out before the end of 2015.” I contacted Hannah: you can preorder either a box or a PDF version now. The game intrigues me; I’m curious about the game play. I may order the PDF version, or wait for some reviews. It may be a good way to explain chronic pain.



Interesting Games in the Pipeline

userpic=gamingContinuing the process of clearing out the backed up links while on vacation. Today’s collection relates to gaming. I’ve seen three interesting games come across my RSS feeds recently, and all look like things worth exploring. Part of our problem is that we’ve been without a gaming group (other than SoCal Games Days) for a few years, ever since Lauren died and Nicole moved out of the Valley. So we’ve acquired some new games, but have no one to play them with 😞. Still, we might aquire these. Live local to Northridge? Care to come over and play?

  • Ticket To Ride UK/PA. Evidently Days of Wonder has been continuing to add to the Ticket to Ride series. We love the game, but don’t have all the expansions (in particular, I’d be interested in the 2 player Nordic Countries expansion). We have the base game, Europe, Märklin, 1910, and the Switzerland version. So I read with interest the announcement of new expansion maps: Ticket to Ride UK/Pennsylvania. The changes they are making to the train system sound intriguing.
  • Patchwork. A mention in one of my RSS feeds led me to the game Patchwork, a two-player game where players compete to build the most aesthetic (and high-scoring) patchwork quilt on a personal 9×9 game board. Given I’ve got a wife into the fabric arts, and we need some more two-player games, this sounds worth ordering. [ETA: Dennis Donovan also pointed me to another quilting related game: Quilt Show]
  • Sushi Go. This game was discovered by a mention on Boing Boing: Sushi Go. This is a card game where you choose a card from your hand and then pass the rest to the player on your left (receiving a new hand from the player on your right). The goal is to score the most points by strategically collecting groups of sushi (or a piece of sushi and a spot of wasabi to dip it in) while working to block your opponents from collecting what they need. Each type of sushi has a different value, which is listed at the bottom of the card. For instance, egg nigiri is worth one point per card, while sashimi is worth ten points for every three you collect.  According to BGG, it seems to accommodate 2 players as well.



A New Gaming Cafe in Glendale

Game Haus Cafeuserpic=boardgamegeekI normally take the day after Thanksgiving as my personal holiday. Today was no exception — and I spent the day relaxing and placing board games. The “where”, however, was new: Game Haus Cafe in Glendale.

Game Haus (for which I was a Kickstarter supporter) is a brand-new coffeehouse / cafe / gaming space. They have delicious coffees and teas, a variety of gourmet sandwiches, simple gourmet pizzas, desserts, and most importantly, pie (here’s a link to the full menu). They also have a large variety of board games (over 600), including not only the Euro-games you see at Games Days, but family games, trivia games, word games, party games — in other words, something for everyone. $5 buys you an all-day gaming pass.

This makes them very handy for days when there is no Games Day scheduled, but you want to play games. You go down there… and play. From where I am in Northridge, it took me around 20 minutes to get there when I left to arrive shortly after opening (11am). They are essentially at the intersection of San Fernando and Brand (on the San Fernando side). If you go 1 bl S on San Fernando, you can likely find parking in the residential district, but it is a bit of a walk. (I’d exit I-5 at Los Feliz, go E to San Fernando, and then S on San Fernando).

They’ve been open less than a month, and seemed to be pretty crowded by 1pm-ish. There are a few growing pains they are working on, and I do have a few suggestions:

  • Single Gamers. There needs to be something for single-gamers looking for people to game with. Right now, you try to glom onto groups, and that’s an imperfect art (luckily, today there was another single-gamer, and we tended to play together). I’d suggest perhaps a board indicating who is there for single gaming, and perhaps a color sticker on the badge.
  • Names. It would up the friendliness quotient if the “day gaming” sticker included the player’s first name. This might also help people mingle to find other gamers.
  • Game Ambassador. I found myself, when people were wandering looking for games, asking them what type of game they were looking for… and helping them find games. I also helped teach a game or two. This sort of “ambassador” is needed to help improve the friendliness, and to help people find new games they might not know. Again, people willing to do this might be able to get a “Game Ambassador” sticker, and perhaps could earn points towards free pie.
  • Paper and Pens. Many games require scoring or notation. It might be useful to have some small stacks of paper and pens available. They could be promotional — so if people take the pens they’ve got the info on Game Haus.
  • Gluten-Free Food. This comes from my wife — adding some gluten-free delicacies to the baked goods menu would be wonderful.

As you can see, none of these are fatal flaws and are opening-time rough edges. This cafe is the first of its kind in the area, and I truly hope it succeeds. I know I’ll certainly be back when I can fit it into my schedule.

Game Haus Cafe is located at 1800 South Brand Blvd., #107, Glendale, CA 91204.


Saturday Clearing O’ The Links

userpic=observationsIt’s Saturday, and you know what that means — time to clear out those links that couldn’t form into a coherent theme over the week. That doesn’t mean this are incoherent links, but … umm … perhaps we should just get to the links:

  • Theatre Stuff. This has been a busy week theatre-wise — based on some good reviews in the times and some timely discoveries, I’ve now filled out my June theatre dance card. You’ll see that in tomorrow’s review of Priscilla, but I do have a few theatre items. First is a very interesting review of Scottsboro Boys at the Ahmanson… written by a resident of Scottsboro AR. His take is very different than some. Second, I’ve become a tag at Bitter Lemons! Perhaps I should explain: Bitter Lemons is a theatre site here in Los Angeles that aggregates reviews and writeups of local shows, and then uses them to ascribe an overall “lemon” score — from sweet to bitter — on each show. They evidently like my writeups enough to include them in the meter, and I’m honored by that inclusion. I’ve even more honored that Colin, who runs the site, wrote a wonderful response to a post I did a while back regarding critics and their place. I also really liked their advice to the aspiring critic; I’ll take a number of those items to heart. A PS to the good folks at REP East: You should pay attention to this post about getting your shows in the Lemon Meter.
  • Your Net Worth. Two different posts looks at the question of what you are worth to different groups. Yes, you. First, have you ever thought about who was the most valuable patron to a casino: a pennyslot player or a blackjack player. The answer may surprise you – the pennyslot player. What about on Facebook? How much are you worth if you “like” something? Read this post, and you’ll be very hesitant about “like”-ing in the future.
  • The State of Affairs. A couple of state things. First, an interesting map that shows if you are in “dog” or a “cat” state. This is based on the percentage of pet ownership of each type. I’m in a neutral state, it seems. What I’d love to find is a map that categorized cities as “east coast” or “west coast” — and this isn’t a geographical distinction. Perhaps one day I’ll explain it, but I’ll give my two favorite examples: LA and KC are “west coast”, San Francisco and St. Louis are “east coast”.  Second, the city hall in St. Louis is slowly deteriorating, and no one is doing anything about it. It’s not that St. Louis doesn’t have city pride; it’s that they don’t associate it with their city hall.
  • Conference Concerns. I’ve been involved with the ACSAC conference for many years (in fact, training submissions are still open — you have until Monday to get something in). Thus, I’m worried whenever incidents such as the recent IRS boondoggle hit the news — it makes people start seeing conferences as frivolous. It also leads to bills such as those mentioned in this article, that would ban travel to “fun” places. Conferences can be useful and cost effective, if GSA guidelines are followed and the organizers focus on technical content and quality. As always, perception is everything. The important thing to remember is electronic interaction cannot replace face-to-face interaction, just like recommendations from Amazon cannot replace browsing at the bookstore.
  • An Interesting Kickstarter. The SCGD mailing list alerted me to an interesting Kickstarter: A group of gamers is attempting to start a Board Game Cafe in Glendale CA. I love the idea, but I’m less sure about the location — I think it would do better in Westwood (near UCLA) or Northridge (near CSUN). Still I may decide to support them. Basically, the idea is as follows: customers visit the café and for a small cover charge they get access to an extensive board game library (which often runs into hundreds of titles) as well as food and drink options from the café. There is no establishment like this in Los Angeles. There are game shops, but that’s a different atmosphere. The question is: Will it be a destination? It might — after all, they have pie. (All I know is the pie sold me — I’m a supporter. Please help them make their stretch goal so I get pie!)

Music: Folk Era Mini CD (The Kingston Trio): “Tom Dooley”